Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Schultz to hit milestone; Stamkos talks Walzie; Sifers reassigned; Medvec coming to the X

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Wild practice Updated: March 22, 2010 - 1:50 PM

Forgot to mention, because of my travel schedule this week, "Russo Radio" will be tonight at 7 p.m. on KSTP.

Good afternoon from Chateau de Russo, where I'm about to go for a long walk along the Mississippi. I said on last night's blog you wouldn't get a blog today, but what else do I have to do, really?

So I just went to NHL.com and I saw this huge 600 on the front page. Pretty cool that the NHL's web site is honoring Nick Schultz for hitting the 600-game milestone tomorrow night against San Jose.

NHL.com messed up though. They put three pictures of Teemu Selanne behind the 6, 0 and 0 instead of Schultz.

I mean, they don't look that alike.

Unless Schultz grew another appendix to replace the one that was removed before the 2008 playoffs and that one also bursts tonight, Schultz should indeed play his 600th game tomorrow night. Knowing the laid-back Schultz, I bet the Twins fan is more excited about Joe Mauer's eight-year extension than about hitting the milestone.

In the NHL, you get your own room on the road after hitting the 600-game mark as long as you've also played 10 years. This is Year 8 for Schultz, so poor guy's got a little while to go for that.

In other Wild snooze, Jaime Sifers was reassigned to AHL Houston today.

The Wild hosts the Sharks tomorrow night. I don't think there's really ever a good time to play the Sharks, but if there ever was one, tomorrow's it. San Jose, which also comes to town next week, has lost six in a row, including a 5-1 loss at Edmonton last night and in the streak, an 8-2 pummeling by Dallas.

Also, Wild 2006 fourth-round pick Kyle Medvec, a native of Apple Valley and University of Vermont 6-foot-6 junior defenseman, will be playing Wisconsin in the West Regional this Friday at Xcel Energy Center. Remember, Medvec and Vermont made it to the Frozen Four last year, where it lost to, I believe, eventual champion Boston University.

Talking to those who have watched Vermont, Medvec's had his best year by far with 15 points in 38 games. From something I did on Medvec before last year's Frozen Four, here's Catamount coach Kevin Sneddon on Medvec: "He's the first high-profile player we were able to recruit out of Minnesota and he hasn't disappointed one bit. He's got a bright future here with the Catamounts, and he's also going to be a very good pro.

"He's got phenomenal hands for somebody who's 6-6. He's got a great, quick release, a great one-time shot, can skate very well."

Also, I got an email from Calgary Flames media relations guru Peter Hanlon, and Daymond Langkow was released from a St. Paul hospital today and will return to Calgary to be examined by Flames doctors.

Lastly, if you didn't see, I caught up with Wild Original Wes Walz for my Sunday column. Here's the link. Walz was fired late in the Olympic break. Walz, who is planning on moving "home" to Minnesota after the school year, talked a lot about his love for coaching, and specifically the job he did with Steven Stamkos.

I had an interview request in for Stamkos for the story, but he had my wrong number until today, and he called me back this morning. Obviously, I already wrote the column, so I figured I'd throw Stamkos' quotes on the blog. By the way, last night, Stamkos, 20, scored his 43rd goal, which ranks third in the NHL. His 83 points are tied for fifth. His 19 power-play goals lead the NHL.

I talked to Stamkos about a number of things, but here's Steven specifically on Walz:

“He meant a lot to my career. Everyone knows it was kind of a rough start with Barry Melrose there and not getting the opportunity to play. Rick took over, and Walzie had a bigger role on the team and focused in on me. I’ll be forever appreciative of that. It was pretty special how he did one-on-one video sessions with me, worked with me before and after, and it helped a lot with me being a centerman and the fact he was a centerman. For me, it was big and he really taught me a lot. It was pretty special that he took the time to work with me and make me a better player, and I’m thankful for it.”
 
On his 43-goal season as a 19/20-year-old: “It was a learning process, and this year I came in a lot more confident. Wes helped me a lot in that department. I got the opportunity to play a lot in the second half last year, and that helped me a lot with my confidence heading into the summer. I came into camp prepared. I knew what to expect this time around. I got opportunities in every situation and a lot of different minutes. Walzie helped me with my penalty killing, and he really pushed for me to get on there. So it was something I added to my game.”

Incidentally, I also talked to Lightning GM Brian Lawton about a number of things yesterday, and he said on Walz that he's a bright, young coach and that he never would have offered him the Norfolk job if he didn't think that.

OK, four Wild players practiced today. Another game tomorrow before the monthlong pattern continues of on the road again Thursday and Friday.

And congrats to Teemu for scoring No. 600 Couldn't happen to a nicer player.

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